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Psalms 63:1-11 Title. It is generally and probably supposed, that David composed this most fervent and devout Psalm, when pursued by Saul in the deserts of Judah. (Marg. Ref.) Some, however, think that it was written at a later period ; namely, when he fled from Absali m, and before he passed over Jordan. (Notes, 2 Samuel 15:1-37:)
V. 1- 4. The Psalmist, banished from the court--, and ordinances of God, considered himself as a weary traveller, in a desolate and parched land, when ready to perish by thirst. And his earnest desire atter commun ; on with God and his worshippers at the sanctuary, seems to have affected his body, as well as his soul ; perhaps spoiling his rest and appetite, and impairing his health and vigour. (Notes, Psalms 42:1-3
Many explain the words, " To see thy power " and glory, &c." of the ark, which was the symbol of the Lord’s powerful, glorious, and gracious presence with his people. But the ark itself was concealed from sight ; nor does it appear that, in the days of David, there was in general any external display of the divine glory at the sanctuary. It may therefore be supposed, that he referred to the internal and spiritual views, which, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he had experienced of the perfections and glory of God, while attending on those ordinances ; which both commemorated the wonderful works of the Lord for his people Israel, and typified the salvation of the promised Redeemer. These contemplations and discoveries, had often excited his admiring and adoring I love and ratitude, and animated his confidence and joy ; in God ; which made him regret exceedingly the loss of such pleasant and profitable opportunities. This enjoyment of the love of God, as an anticipation of heavenly felicity, he valued more than life itself; and therefore he was fully determined to employ himself, and all his powers of body and soul, in praising the Lord, as long as he lived, and wherever he was driven ; (Notes,Psalms 51:12-13. Psalms 145:1-2. Psalms 146:2 ;) confidently expecting, that the sweet experience which he recollected, would thus be renewed to him, even if banished from the outward means of grace. (Marg.
V. 5. The remembrance of thy favour is more sweet ’ unto me, than all the pleasures and dainties of the world.- The Psalmist waited for the pleasure of communion with God, with more ardent desire, than any epicure ever anticipated the enjoyment of sensual pleasure; and the remembrance of God, during the night, cheered his soul, when dangers or cares disturbed his rest. (Marg. Ref. Note, Song of Solomon 1:4.) Can any candid man read this Psalm, and then speak of true devotion, as merely intellectual, a dispassionate exercise of the understanding, without any warm emotions or vehement affections of the heart?
Weighed in the balance of such phlegmatick Christians, the man after God’s own heart must be numbered among enthusiasts : for, though his devotion was most rational, it certainly was most fervent and enraptured ; and in fact the more rational on that very account.
V. 6- 8. David’s recollection of past protection and deliverance, which occupied his thoughts as he lay sleepless in his bed, during the watches of the night, encouraged him, not only to rely on the power, truth, and love of God, in his extremest dangers, but to rejoice in this confidence under his sharpest afflictions. His soul cleaved unto God, as the child clings about its kind parent, when alarmed or in pain; and " followed hard after him," earnestly seeking nearer communion and conformity ; being upheld by the power of divine grace, in thus pressing forward in his heavenly course. (Note,Psalms 73:23-28.) The fervour of David’s devotion, whether pouring out his soul in earnest prayer, with vigorous exercises of faith and hope; or celebrating the praises of God with admiring love, joyful gratitude, and glowing zeal for his honour and glory ; seems especially to have procured him the honourable distinction of " the man after God’s own heart." The following verses from Dr. Watts well support the animation of the leading parts of this exquisitely beautiful psalm :
With heart, and eyes, and lifted hands, For thee I long, to thee I look ; As travellers, in thirsty lands, Pant for the cooling water-brook. With early feet I love t’ appear Among thy saints, and seek thy face ; Oft have I seen thy glory there, And felt the power of sovereign grace. Nor fruits nor wines that tempt our taste, Nor all the joys our senses know, Could make me so divinely blest, Or raise my cheerful passions so. My life itself without thy love, No taste of pleasure could afford ; I Would but a tiresome burthen prove, If I were banished from the Lord. Amidst the wakeful hours of night, When busy cares afflict my head, One thought of thee gives new delight, And adds refreshment to my bed. I’ll lift my hands, I’ll raise my voice, While i have breath to pray or praise ; This work shall make my heart rejoice, And spend the remnant of my days.
V. 9- 11. The Psalmist while employed in these devout exercises, clearly foresaw the disgraceful end of his persecutors. They would perish and go under the earth, as if swallowed up by it, with Dathan and Abiram ; (Note, Numbers 16:28-34 ;) or, falling by the sword, they would be left unburied, for food to the foxes with which the land abounded. This was probably the case with many, who fell at Gilboa. He also foresaw himself, as advanced upon the throne, to be king of Israel ; and as rejoicing in God, and not in his outward dignity, or the ruin of his enemies : while every one, who cordially sware allegiance to him, or who, as worshippers if God, sware with solemnity by His name, would glory in the advancement of his servant ; and all who falsely accused him, or attempted to deceive him, would effectually be confuted and silenced. (Marg. Ref. zb.)
The true believer is convinced, that nothing in this world can satisfy the desires of his immortal soul ; and he therefore expects happiness from the eternal God, as his God and Portion. (Notes, Deuteronomy 33:27-29.) When his soul is in a healthy and prosperous state, an inextinguishable thirst after the discoveries of the glory of the Lord, and the experience of his grace and love, lead him to seek him early, every day, with the best of his time and the prime of his affections. He likewise greatly values publick ordinances ; and when confined from them, or constrained to live among those who know not God, he regrets his loss ; feels as one banished into a parched wilderness ; and, with a mixture of pleasure and pain, recollects, how he " has seen the power and glory of God in " his sanctuary." (Note, Psalms 42:4-5.) This uneasiness, to which he is occasionally liable, arises from the same source as another part of his experience, which is habitual,
especially when faith and hope are most in exercise : the world itself appears to him a weary desert, and he longs for the joys of heaven, of which he has had some foretastes in the ordinances of God on earth. Yet, even in this wilderness wells of salvation are opened : (Note, Isaiah 12:3:) his gracious thirst is in part allayed : and the want of stated means of grace sometimes excites more vigorous desires, and more earnestness in waiting on God in secret. The believer in this frame of mind values the loving kindness of God more than life ; and is even willing to depart hence that he may fully enjoy it.
(Note, Philippians 1:21-26. P. O. 21- 30.) This foretaste and prospect tune his heart and lips to praise the Lord, and to rejoice in the midst of tribulation : and he desires, as a sweet solace during his weary pilgrimage, " to bless the LORD while he lives, and to lift up his hands in his name." Then the pleasures of the world lose their attraction : " for his soul is satisfied, as with marrow and fatness," while joyfully praising and thinking upon God : and such contemplations at once excite his gratitude, increase his confidence, and animate him in seeking conformity and nearness to the Lord ; aspiring after still greater attainments, as feeling himself upheld by the power of the Almighty. To mount with David towards heaven, in these exalted strains of devotion and zeal, should be our holy ambition : true Christians can in some measure, and at some times, appropriate his emphatical language ; but, alas ! we too commonly have to complain, " that our souls cleave to the dust." (Note, Psalms 119:25.) Let us then be more instant in prayer, that we may be quickened according to his word of promise. The enemies of such Christians, as have been feebly described, are also enemies of Christ our King : present disgrace and eternal ruin will be then: certain doom, if they persist in their enmity; and the lies, with which they blaspheme the Redeemer, or slander his people, or deceive one another, shall be silenced in anguish and despair. But our King having now entered upon " the joy set before him," all who bow before him, and swear fealty to him, shall rejoice and glory in God with him; and obtain an honour and happiness infinitely superior to that of the most exalted throne on earth. And if the Israelites had reason to rejoice in their king ; how much more should we glory in our " King of righteousness and peace ! " (Note, Hebrews 7:13.)
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Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 63". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14